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The following are a couple questions about Belgium which I always wanted to ask.

WARNING: May contain traces or samples of VVSQ (very very stupid questions)

-Are there any differences between Flemish and Dutch? or Wallonian and French (that is, if Wallonian is even a language..?)

-What do the three colours of the flag symbolize?

-I've read that the two regions of Belgium both have some autonomy and have separate elections. So who goes about making national decisions? or are there any national decisions or just separate decisions for each region?

-The Belgian posters here seem to speak very good English so I was wondering whether English is taught along with the other two official languages in school? if so, in what year do you start learning a 2nd language or a 3rd language?

Thanks, I would appreciate any replies :)
 
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OMG....Belgian politics lol.

Belgium is undoubtedly the most complicated state in the world. I'll try to explain it as simple as possible (what a contradiction :eek:).

Flemish = Dutch. It's just that people like to call it Flemish when they refer to the Dutch spoken in Belgium. There are differences between Dutch from Belgium and Dutch from The Netherlands, mainly in pronunciation (a bit like the different forms of English) and sometimes in vocabulary as well.

Walloon is quite different from French, I guess you could say it's a French dialect. Not many people speak it nowadays, most only speak the standard French.

The colours of the Belgian flag were taken from the flag of the duchy of Brabant (now a province in Belgium and also in The Netherlands). The flag featured a golden (yellow) lion on a black surface with a red tongue and nails.

Belgium has a multitude of governments and parliaments.
At the top you find the federal government and parliament, whose decisions are applied over the entire Belgian territory. The federal state is competent for things like : national defense, transport, foreign affairs, budget, social security, etc...

Then you have :
-3 regions : Flemish Region, Walloon Region and Brussels Capital Region
-3 communities : Flemish Community, French Community and German Community

Regions are competent for things like economy, tourism, urban planning, etc...
Communities are competent for things like education, arts, heathcare, sport, etc...

The Flemish Region and Community are merged into one so on Flemish side there's only one government and one parliament.
The Walloon Region has it's own government and parliament just like the French Community. So that makes 2 governments and 2 parliaments on French-speaking side.
The German Community has its own government and parliament.
The Brussels Capital Region has its own government and parliament.
Brussels also has a Flemish Communitairian Commission, a French Communitarian Commission and a bi-communitarian commission. The Flemsih and French Communitairian Commissions are responsible for those institutions that apply only to one or the other linguistic group. The bi-communitairian commission is competent for bi-communitairian institutions that do not belong strictly to one or the other linguistic groups (museums for example).

It's far more complicated but that's the basics. ;)

I can only speak for Flemish school here but we started learning French from age 9 and English from age 12. Those two languages are mandatory while German/Spanish and Italian are optional from age 15-16 I think.
 

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whoa...that was a mouthful!
Thanks a lot Josh, you've made things clearer :)
 

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I don't know if we get any Italian in Belgium, I've never heard of it. Anyway, in my school there's no options concerning languages. At 10 we got French, at 13 English, and at 15 German and that's it. Although I would have liked it if I could have gotten Spanish too :)
 

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2ace2 said:
I don't know if we get any Italian in Belgium, I've never heard of it. Anyway, in my school there's no options concerning languages. At 10 we got French, at 13 English, and at 15 German and that's it. Although I would have liked it if I could have gotten Spanish too :)
same here, although we had Latin starting at the age of 12 . Technical department of our school could learn Spanish though (at least the trade=handel studies).

In University, i still got French, English & German/Spanish (i graduated Economics this year). We could however take any language (from Swedish to swahili)
 

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wow, and I thought Canada was a complicated place to live in. We've been described as a 'two headed mouse in bed with an elephant' by some of our own authors ;)
 
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